Russia Monitor: Sanctions & Scotty Walker’s Campaign Financing T’rubles

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (4/9/18) Dear Fellow Readers, At long last, the Trump administration has finally issued serious sanctions against Russia. The sanctions cover a combination of Russian oligarchs, related companies and Russian officials. These sanctions are issued under previous censure of Russian involvement in Ukraine and Syria. Congress overwhelmingly passed bipartisan sanctions meant to punish Russia for election interference in August 2017, while these latest additions are not part of that legislation, these are certainly aimed squarely at Russian influence in the 2016 election. More specifically, these latest sanctions punish many Russians directly linked to Trump and…


Authoritarianism Scholar Timothy Snyder: Reporters – Are The Heroes Of Our Time

  “Everything good we take for granted in a free society depends upon factuality. Without reporters we don’t have factuality.” By Timothy Snyder (3/10/18) Without the people who seek facts, we can forget about justice, freedom, and equality. Timothy Snyder is a historian at Yale University, specializing in eastern Europe, totalitarianism, and the Holocaust. His books have received widespread acclaim. His most recent book, “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century,” explores the everyday ways a citizen can resist the authoritarianism of today. He is also the author of “Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning” and, forthcoming…


If You Want To Kill Dangerous Drug Dealers, Start With Big Pharma

By Domenica Ghanem OtherWords (4/4/18) At a recent rally in New Hampshire, Donald Trump called for the death penalty for drug traffickers as part of a plan to combat the opioid epidemic in the United States. At a Pennsylvania rally a few weeks earlier, he called for the same. Now his administration is taking steps toward making this proposal a reality. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo on March 21 asking prosecutors to pursue capital punishment for drug traffickers — a power he has thanks to legislation passed under President Bill Clinton. Time and again, these punitive policies have proven ineffective…


Your Brain On Politics: Trump Voters Value Power Over Others, Wealth & Conformity

  (Editor’s Note: This story is on how voting decisions are made which is not on the basis of facts, talking points and wonky position papers, but on the basis of values and emotional identification and rejection. The right wing has known and honed this insight for 50 years. The left — especially the democrats — have only lately begun to grasp the reality, but, as we see with the state and national dem leadership, they are fighting that bit of psychological reality every inch of the way. -Mark L. Taylor)  By Eric Dolan PsyPost (3/18/18) People with similar values…


But Of Course! Thoreau’s Walden Pond Is Being Killed By PEE-ople

  By Corky Siemaszko NBC News (4/6/18) If Henry David Thoreau were alive today, he might re-title his most famous work “On Golden Pond.” And he would be pissed. That’s because Walden Pond, the once-pristine jewel that inspired the American naturalist and philosopher in the mid 1800s, has been befouled by generations of swimmers urinating in the water, according to a new study. So much so that it is wrecking the ecosystem and devastating the fish population of the pond some 25 miles west of Boston that Thoreau immortalized in his best-known work, “Walden; or, Life in the Woods.” “These findings suggest that, although…


Success Of Public-Owned Broadband Shows It’s Time To Nationalize The Internet

  By Julianne Tveten In These Times (12/20/17) Defying widespread popular objection, on December 14 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal net neutrality. The principle regulates broadband as a utility, thus forbidding cable companies and Internet service providers (ISPs) from throttling, blocking or otherwise discriminating against online traffic. While net neutrality was only enacted in early 2015, it swiftly proved a key component of an open Internet. While the assault on net neutrality is formidable, it’s not without formal opposition. The Republican-helmed FCC’s two Democrat Commissioners, Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel, have censured the decision and urged dissent. A number of state attorneys…


Parkland Kids Faced Death So The Cowardly Adults Give Them Clear Backpacks. What They Do With Them Is Bold Genius

  By Fabiola Santiao The Miami Herald (4/3/18) “Sorry for the inconvenience. I’m just just trying to change the world. Don’t piss on my bonfire. #Neveragain”— Sam Fuentes, who took shrapnel to the face at the Parkland shooting, on Twitter. Just when you thought the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students couldn’t get any more eloquent, they do. Enter the school leadership mandate that they must all carry see-through backpacks — and instantly, the students turn the violation of privacy into #NeverAgain message boards, a new weapon for activism risen from inside the halls where the worst high school shooting in…


A Former Evangelical Explains How To Talk With Christian Fundamentalists

  By Nelle Smith The Raw Story (4/2/18) One of the biggest questions I received after writing about Trump, evangelicals, and the end of the world for RD was this: how do we talk to people who see the world as collateral damage in the pursuit of the Heavenly Kingdom? Is it even worth trying to nudge people out of that worldview? My post-evangelical advice? Be very, very gentle—you don’t know what you’re asking. Here’s an exhibit. When I was twenty-one years old, someone finally knocked it through my thick head that the earth was old. I was halfway through Geology 100…


Billionaires & Bytes: How Truth Lost Its Meaning In Trump’s America

“Right now there are no shared facts in America.” VICE News on HBO (3/30/18) In Trump’s America, half the population lives in a world where the “crooked media” tells “fake news” made up of “alternative facts,” while the other half fights to maintain public trust in traditional media. Much of this stems from the parallel online universe that led up to the 2016 election. Clinton and Trump supporters really don’t listen to each other on Twitter, according to an analysis from the Electome project at the MIT Media Lab provided exclusively to VICE News. “At least on Twitter, we see…


‘Self-Detonating’ Lone Wolves: How White American Right Wing Terrorists Are Radicalized

  By David M. Perry In These Times (3/26/18) When Mark Conditt was a teenager, he participated in a club called Righteous Invasion of Truth. RIOT kids were homeschooled and religious, and spent their club time playing war games, practicing weapons skills, and reading the Bible. As a community college student in 2012, he wrote blogs against homosexuality and abortion. In 2018, he planted bombs in Austin, Texas, appearing to target African-American communities, then blew himself up as police closed in. The question isn’t whether Conditt was a terrorist, but where was this terrorist radicalized? More important, who else is being radicalized…


How America’s Largest Local TV Owner Turned Its News Anchors Into Soldiers In Trump’s War On The Media

Sinclair Broadcasting News Bot 2018 By Timothy Burke The Concourse/Deadspin (3/31/18) Earlier this month, CNN’s Brian Stelter broke the news that Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner or operator of nearly 200 television stations in the U.S., would be forcing its news anchors to record a promo about “the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country.” The script, which parrots Donald Trump’s oft-declarations of developments negative to his presidency as “fake news,” brought upheaval to newsrooms already dismayed with Sinclair’s consistent interference to bring right-wing propaganda to local television broadcasts. You might remember Sinclair from its having been featured…


Inside The Decade-Long Russian Campaign To Infiltrate The NRA & Help Elect Trump

Femme fatales, lavish Moscow parties and dark money – how Russia played the National Rifle Association. By Tim Dickinson The  Rolling Stone (4/1/18) In November 2013, the president of the National Rifle Association, David Keene, was introduced as an honored guest at the conference of the Right to Bear Arms, a gun lobby in Moscow. “There are no peoples that are more alike than Americans and Russians,” Keene said. “We’re hunters. We’re shooters. We value the same kinds of things.” Keene underscored his friendship with Alexander Torshin, a top politician in the ruling party of Vladimir Putin; for the past three…


Russia Monitor: Trump Makes His Case For Top Billing In Worst Leadership

  Tonight’s results show we are at risk of a #BlueWave in WI. The Far Left is driven by anger & hatred … Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) Tweet, 7:50 PM April 3, 2018 By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (4/5/18) Dear Fellow Readers, Even though the last few days has rained Trump-Putin and Trump news, Gov. Scott Walker gets top billing for his astute political assessment with his typical, cynical, overstatement of liberals as boogeymen. The above tweet was issued shortly after the election for Wisconsin Supreme Court was called in favor of Rebecca Dallet. Congratulations to all the winners…


Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Is That Jared Kushner In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Happy To Lock Up Dissidents?

  The Young Turks (3/30/18) The Saudi crown prince has boasted that Jared Kushner is “in [his] pocket” because, he says, Kushner fed him top-secret U.S. intelligence to crack down on critics within the Saudi royal family. Kushner reportedly also promised he would get Rex Tillerson fired as U.S. Secretary of State. Kushner has warped U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East in an apparent attempt to secure desperately needed funding for his failing real estate empire. Link to 16-Minute Video Editor’s Note To The Above Video… By Mark  L. Taylor The Commoner Call (4/5/18) When Trumputin came to power…


Plummeting Cost For Wind & Solar Means Economic Case For Coal & Gas Is ‘crumbling’

  By Joe Rom Think Progress (3/29/18) Prices for solar, wind, and battery storage are dropping so rapidly that renewables are increasingly squeezing out all forms of fossil fuel power, including natural gas. The cost of new solar plants dropped 20 percent over the past 12 months, while onshore wind prices dropped 12 percent, according to the latest Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) report. Since 2010, the prices for lithium-ion batteries — crucial to energy storage — have plummeted a stunning 79 percent (see chart). “The economic case for building new coal and gas capacity is crumbling,” as BNEF’s chief of energy…


Kenya’s Basic Income Experiment

  BBC (3/31/18) What happens if you give every adult in a village $22 a month, no strings attached, for 12 years? In rural Kenya, researchers are trying to find out. They’re conducting the world’s largest study of ‘universal basic income’ – giving ‘free money’ to nearly 200 villages, to see whether this could kick-start development and bring people out of poverty. The BBC’s Africa correspondent Anne Soy visits western Kenya to meet some of the people involved in this giant economic experiment, and to find out what they make of this unexpected windfall in their lives. How will people spend…


Red State Revolt: Meet The Educators In Kentucky & Oklahoma Walking Out Over School Funding

Democracy Now! (4/4/18) Schools across Oklahoma are closed today for a third day as teachers continue their strike demanding more funding for education and increased pay. Oklahoma’s public education budget has been slashed more than any other state since the start of the recession in 2008, and its teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation. Scores of teachers are planning to begin a 123-mile protest march today from Tulsa to Oklahoma City. Meanwhile, thousands of teachers continue to protest in Kentucky, demanding a reversal to a provision in a recently passed bill about sewage treatment that gutted their…


Nine More Wisconsin Communities Vote To Amend The U.S. Constitution To Flush Money Out Of Politics

  Madison, WI (April 4, 2018) – On Tuesday, April 3rd, Wisconsin residents in nine communities voted to amend the U.S. Constitution to clarify that only human beings should have inalienable human rights and money is not the same thing as free speech. All referenda passed with overwhelming majorities: Green County (78%), St. Croix County (77%), the cities of La Crosse (88%), Marshfield (81%), Sun Prairie (83%), Rice Lake (81%), the villages of McFarland (79%) and Wittenberg (83%), and the town of Sand Creek (77%) in Dunn County. That brings the total to 129 Wisconsin communities that have called for…


Knowing The Difference Between ‘A’ Problem & ‘The’ Problem: Our Trumputin ‘Fresh Hell’ Is The Result Of Our Selective National Blindness

    When no one is held accountable the same thing will happen again. On The Media / WNYC (3/30/18) Fifteen years since the start of the Iraq War, we live in what many see as a fresh hell: the erosion of institutions and standards at the highest levels. But political science professor Corey Robin argues that the Trump era is merely an extension of the same reflex that gave us the Iraq War — and much that preceded it. Robin recently wrote a piece for Harper’s Magazineabout the American tendency to re-imagine the past [See below]. He and Brooke discuss our collective failure to draw…


Here’s The Guide To Finding Out Just How Much Information Google & Facebook Have On You

Manage to gain access to someone’s Google account? Perfect, you have a diary of everything that person has done. By Dylan Curran The Guardian (3/30/18) Want to freak yourself out? I’m going to show just how much of your information the likes of Facebook and Google store about you without you even realising it. Google knows where you’ve been Google stores your location (if you have location tracking turned on) every time you turn on your phone. You can see a timeline of where you’ve been from the very first day you started using Google on your phone. Click on this link to see your…


David Shulkin’s Firing At The VA Is Latest Step In Trump-Koch Push To Privatize Veterans’ Healthcare

  Democracy Now! (3/30/18) On Wednesday, President Trump fired Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin and said he’d replace him with White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson, a rear admiral in the Navy. Dr. Jackson has no experience running a large agency. The Department of Veterans Affairs is the federal government’s second-largest department, with 360,000 employees. Shulkin had been facing criticism for various ethics violations, including using taxpayer money to pay for his wife’s airfare during a trip to Europe last summer. But Shulkin says he’s actually being ousted because of his opposition to privatizing the VA, which runs 1,700…


The Denver Democratic Party Platform Now Has An Anti-Capitalist Plank, Thanks to Socialist Activists

By Miles Kampf-Lassin In These Times (3/28/18) In a sign of how far left the political axis has shifted since Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential run, on Saturday the Democratic Party of Denver officially ratified an anti-capitalist plank in its platform. The move was spurred by members of the Denver chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) who petitioned Denver County Democratic Assembly delegates to vote for an amendment to the official party platform. The language states: “We believe the economy should be democratically owned and controlled in order to serve the needs of the many, not to make profits…


TAKE ACTION: Show Up For Congressional District Events Through April 9 And Hold Members Of Congress Accountable

Indivisible (3/31/18) Dear Indivisibles, Welcome to week 2 of recess. Your members of Congress (MoCs) have been in-district for the past week, and yet an alarming number of elected officials have been dodging your calls for open and accessible town halls. So what’s going on? MoCs have dodged town halls for who knows how long. But since Indivisibles like you started showing up at town halls in February 2017, you have them shaking in their boots because they know that you’re more prepared than ever and you’ll hold them accountable. You show up to their events, with the tough questions ready,…


New ‘Commoner’ Feature: You Can’t Say That! Oh, Yes I Can!

The rising tide of national protest and opposition has brought forth a lot of creative humor, satire and other forms of protest. Some of that is to be found on protest signs created by fellow citizens speaking truth to power. The Commoner Call will feature some of that handheld wisdom in a new original cartoon feature we are calling “You Can’t Say That! Oh, Yes I Can!”. The sign above was shared with me by a reader and that was the beginning of the idea for the new feature. If you see a particularly good protest sign send it along for…


Russia Monitor: From Chess To High Stakes Trumputin Pinochle, Investigation Grows

  “In the typical weasel words, “strategic considerations.” The truth is, if they acknowledged what Putin has done on their soil, they would have to act far more seriously then they could bring themselves to.” — Garry Kasparov (3-28-18)   By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (4/2/18) Dear Fellow Readers, The above quote was a March 28th tweet by Russian dissident and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov (@Kasparov63). He has long been an outspoken critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin, as well as Trump. Kasparov had this to say about the recent Russian election while appearing on ABC ‘This Week’…


From The Fertile Soil Of Our Complacency

  “But evil does not die, just as history does not end. Like a weed, evil can be cut back but never entirely uprooted. It waits for its chance to spread through the crack of our vigilance. It can take root in the fertile soil of our complacency, or even the rocky rubble of the Berlin Wall.”  — Garry Kasparov, “Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and The Enemies Of The Free World Must Be Stopped”, 2015 (p.xxii).


VIDEO: Oklahoma Teachers Haven’t Seen A Raise In Ten Years & Now They Are Organizing And Walking Out

By Chelsey B. Coombs & Kathleen Caulderwood VICE News (3/28/18) Lyndsey Stuart is a history and leadership teacher at Bartlesville High School in Oklahoma. She’s been teaching for 10 years. And she’s never had a raise. “I don’t think any teacher goes into the profession and thinks, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to be a millionaire,’’’ Stuart said. “But we also don’t think that we’re going to be that close to poverty.” Earlier this month, the state teachers union, the Oklahoma Education Association, called for teachers to walk out of their classrooms on April 2, the day after the state Legislature is required to…


Minnesota ‘Penny-a-pill’ Treatment Funding Effort Falters Under Pressure From Pharmaceutical Industry

By Jon Collins Minnesota Public Radio (3/30/18) When supporters rolled out what they called “penny-a-pill” legislation last month, they described it as a bipartisan effort to raise needed money to combat the opioid overdose epidemic that claimed hundreds of lives in Minnesota last year. But the legislation faces an uncertain future after strong opposition from pharmaceutical companies and some business interests. The legislation, as originally proposed, would charge pharmaceutical companies a fee for every opioid painkiller they sell. That would raise an estimated $20 million in continued funding for abuse prevention efforts, wider access to the overdose medication naloxone and more resources for treatment. But the…


Just Another Tough-Talkin’ Neocon Chicken Hawk: John Bolton, Trump’s New War Consigliere, Dodged The ‘Already Lost’ Vietnam War

“I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy… I considered the war in Vietnam already lost.” — John Bolton, 1995 By Adam Weinstein Task and Purpose (3/26/18) The funny thing about relentlessly pressing for more war in America is that a lot of the most zealous warhawking politicians and pundits over the years — left and right — leaned on their privileges to avoid being touched personally by war. Dick Cheney never met an oil-rich Middle Eastern nation whose ground he didn’t want to siphon, but he had “other priorities” when Vietnam rolled around….


Mainstream Liberal Media Outlets Providing Platform For Usual List Of Hawks, Spooks & Professional Liars

  By Jeff Cohen Common Dreams (3/26/18) When the “War on Terror” was launched in 2001, mainstream media—especially cable TV news—started a parade. It was a narrow parade of hawkish retired military and intelligence brass promoting war as the response to the crime of 9/11, predicting success and identifying foreign enemies to attack. We can look back at this parade and laugh at the total nonsense dispensed. But the more human response is to cry—over the toll, still mounting, of hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths from Afghanistan to Iraq and beyond, and violent instability across the region, including countries…


French Economist Thomas Piketty Has Counterintuitive Idea For How Democrats Can Retake America

By Martin Cizmar The Raw Story (3/27/18) Would Bernie Sanders have won? French economist Thomas Piketty seems to think so. The author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century, a New York Times best-seller and the most-bought book in the history of Harvard University Press, has published a paper that uses exit polling data to argue that embracing economic populism would power the left toward huge electoral wins. The paper is called “Brahmin Left vs. Merchant Right: Rising Inequality & the Changing Structure of Political Conflict” and it’s a book-length 174 pages with references and charts. Piketty says that both parties now appeal to elites in…


Could It Be? There’s No Going Back From What Happened This Weekend. The Gun Debate Is Over.

  By Andrew Cohen Esquire (3/25/18) ur national debate about guns is over. It ended in a dark movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas. It ended in a first grade classroom in Connecticut and at a high school in Florida. It ended a thousand times on the streets of Chicago, or Baltimore, or Memphis, with a thousand grieving mothers who never got invited to come onto cable television. It ended the last time a child found his daddy’s gun and killed his sister in their living room. It ended the last time a person in crisis found a…


From Car Break-ins To Cops: Where Criminals Get Their Guns

  The Center For Investigative Reporting (12/2/18) Across the country, criminals are arming themselves in unexpected ways. In Florida, they’re stealing guns from unlocked cars and gun stores. In other places, they’re getting them from the police themselves, as cash-strapped departments sell their used weapons to buy new ones. On this episode of Reveal, we learn where criminals get their guns and what cars can teach us about gun safety. Laura Morel of the Tampa Bay Times reports on an epidemic of gun thefts in Florida and how many of those guns are being used to commit crimes. Some of…


The Facebook / Cambridge Analytica Threat: Big, If True

  On The Media/ WNYC 93/23/18) Cambridge Analytica claims that, with the help of 50 million Facebook users’ data, it was able to target ads so specifically and so effectively that it helped swing the election for Donald Trump. The media have been more than happy to boost the claim, but many experts are skeptical. This week, a look at what exactly went on with Cambridge Analytica and whether we shouldn’t be focusing more on Facebook. Plus, how social media works to undermine free will and what the future might hold for Facebook. 1. Antonio García Martínez, columnist at WIRED and former tech entrepreneur,…


Russia Monitor: From Bag Money To Murder To What Putin Most Fears

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (3/29/18) Dear Fellow Readers, We need to get big money out of politics. Trump-Russia is fueled by Kompramat, the compromising information on Trump and associates used as blackmail by Russia. But big money has a similar influence. Let’s use Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) as an example. In late February CNN held a town hall, “Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action”. Rubio debated Cameron Kasky, a Parkland shooting survivor. As part of this exchange Kasky challenged Rubio to no longer accept political donations from the NRA. In response, Rubio said, “There’s money…


Don’t Believe There Isn’t Money Enough For Health Care: The U.S. Is Spending $32 Million Per Hour On War

  Peace Science Digest Context: Ever since the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, the War On Terror has cost the U.S. $5.6 trillion. Almost all of this price tag is financed through borrowed money, significantly increasing the national debt. In The News: “It’s a good time to reflect on what this war — the longest in U.S. history — has cost Americans and others around the world. First, the economic costs: According to estimates by the Costs of War project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, the war on terror has cost Americans a staggering $5.6 trillion since 2001, when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan….


‘Mad As Hell’ Cynthia Nixon Calls Out NY Gov. Cuomo As Fake Progressive & Bully In Fiery Speech

  By Jessica Corbett Common Dreams (3/27/18) A week after actress and political activist Cynthia Nixon launched her campaign as a progressive challenger to New York’s Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the NYC native headed to the state capitol to talk corruption, inequality, and education. Speaking on Monday about Cuomo’s 2010 campaign promise promise (pdf) to “Clean Up Albany,” Nixon said, “As most New Yorkers would tell you, he’s cleaned up Albany about as well as Donald Trump has drained the swamp.” She not only attacked the governor’s lack of action on this front, but also denounced campaign donations and how powerful special interests influence…


Americans And Their Endless Love Of Perpetual War

  By Chris Kanthan Nation of Change (10/22/17) “With great power, comes great responsibility” – a quote from the movie, Superman. However, the superpower known as America can’t stop waging incessant, futile wars. With the tectonic changes in geopolitics, the callous American attitude can result in devastating global wars. Although one can justifiably blame the elites for this debacle, equally culpable are the American people who loudly cheer or silently bless the perpetual wars. Selling a war in the U.S. is like giving out candies on Halloween. At the very fundamental level, most Americans don’t even realize that they live in…


John Bolton’s Mustache Is More Qualified To Be National Security Adviser Than He Is

  By David Rothkopf CNN (3/23/18) (CNN) News outlets have reported that President Donald Trump has decided to replace his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster. Trump was supposedly waiting to announce the decision until he could find a good next posting for McMaster, who remains an active-duty Army general. The rationale was that this would be more dignified for McMaster. But of course, leaking the news of his imminent firing had the opposite effect. And it not only humiliated the general, it also undermined the effectiveness of the entire US national security apparatus at an extremely sensitive time when we face complex challenges involving North Korea,…


March For Our Lives: Teens Challenge The Callousness Of A Nation

High school activist Emma Gonzalez. (Illustration by Seth L. Taylor, 2018.) Emma Gonzalez’s Powerful March For Our Lives Speech In Full (Video) (Editor’s Note: Truly, this speech is one of the most powerful speeches given in American history. — Mark L. Taylor) The Guardian (3/25/18) Parkland shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez – who had been a leading voice immediately after the attack on her school – took to the stage in Washington DC for six minutes and 20 seconds, much of that in silence. She says it was the amount of time it took a shooter to kill 17 people at…